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Before you dismiss this as a party option character, keep in mind that a Bard can really make a difference in any party that you create depending upon the function and role that you want him/her to play. The Bard also plays a “storyline” roll in the game that the other characters don’t and can recognize geographical areas and their functions, recite history (to inform the party), give extra-storyline plot for certain situations and towards mid-game can really make a difference in identifying those items that you stumble across and just have NO CLUE what they are… Aside from this, there are really two roles; Defense and Ranged that the Bard class plays. Race-wise, the Bard has quite a few “picks” that I would suggest you look at when determining your party make-up. In my opinion, determine the “function” that this character is going to play first and then pick the Race…

Defense Preferred Races:
1) Humans get Promising (+1 to a random stat every 5 levels)
2) Dwarves get Armsmaster (+1 toHit w/melee weapons) and Resiliant (-1 SV)

Ranged Preferred Races:
3) High Men/Women get Wise (+5% on Identify skills) and Magic Talent (+1 on spell levels when casting)
4) Elves get Keen Eyes (+1 toHit w/Bows) and Magic Talent (+1 on spell levels when casting)
5) Gnomes get Small (-1 AC) and Magic Talent (+1 on spell levels when casting)

Note: Mario hinted that he might consider “Magic Talent” as a modifier for Bards and Paladins.

I tend to pick the Human race or the Elf race for my party make-up because the Human gets more “stat” increases as they progress throughout the game and the Elf is great with bows. If you manage this right (while levelling) you can make a really nice character with high hit-points and a low AC. Elf wise? I arm this character with a bow and a few arrows and then let them do the tedious chore of shooting everything over 20’ in range. Couple that with utilizing “horns” and I’m doing mass damage to groups of monsters… Gnomes are going to start out with lower ACs than the rest of the mix and Dwarves usually have higher CN scores and can hold their own in melee situations against average monster types.

The Defense Bard:
This character is armed to the hilt, wearing all Iron Platemail, Iron Dwarven Shield, Bardsword and carrying a Harp as their musical instrument. This character is in the 3rd or 4th character slot to take damage and “miss” toHit opportunities against melee attackers from all the other party members. I also hear there is another instrument (pipes?) that gives an AC bonus of 4 but I haven’t stumbled across that yet… Your Defense-Bard is there to take the blunt of attacks of NPCs that are faced off against the party and to protect the magic users and Thief in your party that are in the 5th – 7th character slots. If situated right, your Bard’s hit-points should be at or above the same amount as your Hunter or Monk and keeping slightly behind pace with your Paladin and Warrior. The Bard’s function isn’t there to deal damage, its there to defend the party, sing songs (to heal or avoid NPCs) and use “horns” (as described below).

The Ranged Bard:
This party member’s function is to single out targets that are far away and do repetitive damage to them. If you position this character in the 4th slot, keep a melee weapon in their inventory (Bardsword). If you position this character in the 5th slot, arm them with a “Spear” and they can instantly attack any opposing NPC that is in the 10’ or 20’ range. An “Iron Spear” is what you’re ultimately looking for with an “Iron Elvenbow” for those pesky NPCs that are in the 30’ and farther range. As with ANY Bard, carry horns to blast away groups of monsters that are overwhelming your melee-characters or advancing on the party and are no farther than 30' feet away. The draw-back to this character is, if you run out of arrows and are now in hand-to-hand combat range, you have to “switch” out weapons which takes up a valuable “turn” during combat. You really need to have distance between yourself and your attackers before doing this, so either time it right or have your magic user cast “Farther Foe” so you can switch out weapons and then you can cure this dilemma...

Confusing as it may seem, the main stats for a Bard are as follows:

Main Stats: IQ – Intelligence and LK – Luck
Rumored, IQ plays a role in the effectiveness of your "songs" but also is confirmed for helping with modifying % increases in the "Instrument" skill each level while Luck attributes to % increases in "Identify." It's unconfirmed if either of these two stats plays a role in any kind of "modifier" with the use of Horns and the area effect spells that they generate.

Note: You have a potential of reaching a maximum score of 25 (or above) in both of these areas until all of your other stats are at 18.

Sub-Stats: CN – Constitution and DX – Dexterity
Because the Bard class isn't well known for doing any of "physical" damage, you're going to need your dexterity score above 14 so that you can take advantage of armor class (AC) bonuses. Since this is one of the classes that can wear heavy armor, having a low AC will make the different between being hit with scrapes and bruises and being hit to the point of having to visit the Priest... Constitution is also vitally important because this class has the 2nd highest hit point modifier and as a result shares in "melee" hit point bonuses per level if the character has an adequate CN score.

Note: These scores will max out at 18 until both of your Main Stats are all raised to a score of 25 or above. Only then will you be able to raise this score above 18 (or any other non-Main Stat).

Leveling: Keep in mind that the game randomly raises your "stats" until they are all at a score of 18. Once a stat score is 18, it will stop going up (unless it is a MAIN stat). Your main stats can go up to 25 (and beyond). But the trick is, once you get ALL other stats to 18 and your two main stats to 25, then can you raise the other stats beyond a score of 18. Think about this while creating your character and levelling…

Note: You also have an opportunity of Rolling an 18 for ANY stat (or combination of) when you create your character. For my Bard, I really tried to keep my CN score higher (16-18) with the majority of the other stats between 15 and 18. Here’s a rule of thumb, if the TOTAL of your stat scores isn’t above 82 when creating a new character then re-roll the character… By the time you hit level 6, all of your stats should be at 18 or you should have a combined stat score above 108.

Hit Points per Level: 1d16
Note: Save your game often!!! In fact, when your Bard is ready to level, take them to the Training Hall and save the game right outside the door. Walk in, progress your character and if you don't get 16 HPs or more (with the CN modifer - notes below), reload the game and try again. Save the game when you get the score that you're looking for... If your CN is somewhat low, then when you level try and get a CN increase in combination of a maximum HP adjustment. Reload if you don't get the stat / HPs that you want...

Bonuses w/ Constitution: You get a bonus of +1 HPs for every point above 14. So, if you have a CN of 18, then you will get 1d16 + 4 per level for a maximum total of 20 HPs per level. If you start out with this character having a high CN and DX score, you will be “missed” when being attacked and if hit, you will be able to sustain the damage. Like the Hunter, constitution for this Class is very important to keep in mind when this creating this character from level 1. It's also important because this Stat maxes out at a score of 18 and if you have this score set to a higher level in the beginning, then you'll get more HPs per level until you can get your Main Stats (both) to a score of 25. Only then can you raise this above 18.

When Bards Go Up A Level:
Identify: This score improves by 4% +1% per point of LK over 14 (for a maximum of 99%).
Instruments: This score improves by 4% +1% per point of IQ over 14 (for a maximum of 99%).

Update: Brand new!!! Skills improve a flat 4% per level plus your stat modifier. So for example, if your LK = 16, then Identify goes up 4 + 2 = 6% per level.

Gear / Armor / Weapons:
Bards can wear virtually any armor in the game which includes; Leather, Chain Mail, Heavy Chain Mail, Scale Mail and Platemail (Bronze, Iron, Steel, etc.). Obviously, Platemail is the better choice…

  • Head: Keep an eye out for a Platemail Helmet – You can actually pick one up really early on in the game (I believe in a chest in the first dungeon that you’re sent to). If your starter-Bard has a low DX, then I’d suggest you let them wear this because the item gives you an AC modifier of 4.

  • Hands: Mail, Scalemail and Platemail are the better choices here and you’ll get AC bonuses of 3 to 7 when you stubble across these items. Anything with “Bronze” or “Iron” in the name tag suggests that you’re getting an extra AC bonus of 1 and 2 respectfully. Ultimately, I guess it seems that Platemail Gloves don’t get in the way of a Bard playing an instrument so take advantage of the AC bonus…

  • Chest: Create your Bard and purchase a "Heavy Chain Mail." This item will give you an AC bonus of 5. If you don’t have the gold, think about creating random characters, pooling the gold and then deleting them to get this character up and running… If you’re a “die hard” do it yourself kind of person, then keep an eye out for Scalemail, this item seems to drop right outside the castle and also in all of the starter dungeons. I’d always give your Bard the “hand-me-downs” from your Warrior or Paladin characters…

  • Shields: Wooden Shield, Tower Shield and Dwarven Shield are your stock choices. The best shield for this class is a "Dwarven Shield" (AC 5). A "Bronze Dwarven Shield" gives an AC of 6 while an "Iron Dwarven Shield" gives an AC of 7. Dwarven Shields give the highest AC bonus and are even better than a Tower Shield.

  • Back: Look for an "Elf Cloak." This item will give you an AC modifier of 2. You can actually buy this item from a vendor as you progress in the game. However, you should always give the first one to your Thief.

  • Weapons (Melee): I would strongly suggest you acquire a “Bardsword.” This item gives your Bard a Damage modifier of 1d10+6 with a toHit bonus of +2. You don’t really need to replace this item until you start finding “Iron” items or above… Only then would I suggest something like an “Steel Scimitar” or something that can do over 20 points of damage. But then, your Bard isn’t a damage dealer so don’t worry about this as a main wardrobe piece. If your still intent on killing something, then you can supplement damage output for your Bard by having someone with Magician spells cast “Troll Strength” on them, or better yet, increase the entire party by casting “Giant Strength” which increases each party member’s damage by +10.

  • Weapons (Ranged): The “Iron Elvenbow” is one of the best ranged items; Dmg: 2d10+6. Otherwise, when just starting out, go to the starter-store in the Ruins and buy a Compositbow with normal arrows. Keep an eye out for bundles of Elven Arrows and Sniper Arrows…

  • Music Items: You start off with a Woodpipe so you can “sing” your song, but a Mandolin (toHit +1) and a Harp (toHit +2) will also give your character a toHit bonus. Couple that with a Bardsword and you should be hitting anything in front of you… Don’t equip Horns!!! They don’t give any bonuses and they don’t need to be equipped to be used. By far, the "best" mid-level Bard instrument is a "MacLeod's Bagpipe" which has two bonuses; toHit +4 and AC -4. Note to yourself that anything with a "toHit" bonus is for physical damage modifications and not for any spell based attacks.

  • Other Items: Fire Horns (casts Dragons Breath), Frost Horns (casts a “frost” version of Dragons Breath), Dragon Horn and Winter Horns (casts Hailstorm) are going to be your best friends. There are also Angel Harps that do mass damage against NPCs as well and seem to be the "highiest" damage output out of all of the horns. Any of these items will allow you to do mass damage to groups of monsters. I would strongly suggest you stockpile on these items because they have limited charges (#25 - #40) and are much needed later on in the game as you enter areas like the Bandits Camp, Druids Burial Mound, etc. Let other characters in the party carry horns as a back-up, Warriors, Paladins and Monks all make great "mules" for the traveling Bard. Also, buying a “Baldring Herbal Wine” outside of Savages Crossing is one of the best refreshments you can pick up with #10 charges on it to replenish your Bard song count and is quite "tasty" to boot! Otherwise, it is rumored that "equipping" and "unequipping" your Bardsword will also replenish your Songs... No need in carrying Torches or Lanterns for this character (read below).

Use the Illumination Song to light up a dungeon and save on Spell Points and inventory (from having to carry Lanterns and Torches). Also use Travellers Ditty when trying to get out of a Dungeon or back to civilization (this will allow you to “Run Away” from party encounters without being forced to fight). Song of Life is great to play before any battle because it will heal injured party members as they take damage in a fight and then heal them at the end of each round. You can also pick up “Safe Journey’s Rhyme” outside of Savage Crossing which acts just like the “Revelation” spell. These are all great songs to play to supplement spell point usage… Below is a partial list of songs in Silversword:

1) Tune of Illumination: This magic song will enlighten the surroundings of the party, allowing you to see in dark dungeons.

  • Supposidly the duration of this song lasts "longer" with every "X" amount of Bard levels... There may also be some kind of IQ modifier but that is unconfirmed.

2) Song of Life: Not only does this song raise your party member's spirits, it also tends your wounds, healing you over time. A very powerful magic song!

  • This song heals an additional +1 Hit Point per party member / randomly selected party member every 2 Bard levels.

3) Travellers Ditty: Do not underestimate the effects of this song. It calms most creatures you encounter, so that they will let you pass unharmed. This is very important in the beginning, because running away from enemies may not succeed every time.

  • Exactley what it says above, this song allows you to essentially "Run Away" from all encounters, including "major" ones where the NPCs / Monsters are pre-dispositioned (i.e. bosses, named monsters, etc.).

4) Safe Journeys Rhyme: This song will point you in the right direction and make you aware of secrets and traps.

  • This song acts like the Conjurer spell, "Lesser Revelation" and the Magician spell "Open Eyes" in that it only detects secret doors, traps, pit falls, stairs, etc... It will not illuminate any areas but if your party is lacking a Rogue, this is a perfect work-around for that class being absent from your party.

Note: Please post more songs with their descriptions!!!

Battle Tips:
Again, the Bard (in any role) is by no means a melee damage dealer, knowing this you can use them in other ways. I'd suggest that you use your Bard to attack creatures that you know are "weak" and have low hitpoints (like I mentioned above and below). You could also use your Bard to attack creatures that are already damaged. For example, a Rock Troll has about 300 to 400 hitpoints. If your Warrior hits it for 365 points of damage in the first round, have your Bard attack it in the 2nd round and your Warrior attack something else. The chances that you'll kill "two" monsters by both of these characters is greatly increased. If your Magic-Users are trying to take down a large mob, substitute the Bard instead (versus having both Mages cast area effects) and have them use a Horn. This allows your back-up Magic-User to either cast a debuff or a party heal. Overall, the Bard is a "support" character and if used right can make your adventuring life easier and merrier...

Final Notes:
If you’re creating a Defense-Bard this character should be in the 3rd or 4th character slot and then in the 4th or 5th slot for the Ranged-Bard. Note that this character has the "2nd" highest Hit Point modifier per level with Paladins and Warriors being first because they get a Max Stat CON of 25. Use your Bard to buff the party and conserve on your Mage’s spell points by singing and blast away groups of monsters / NPCs with the use of Horn items. Have your Bard attack the “weaker” NPCs that you become faced with, for example: Asps (snakes) that really have low hitpoints but can poison party members (if hit) in the mid-level dungeons. Conjurers which can cast “Battle Strike” are great targets for the eager Bard who is looking to hit someone, anyone for that matter, with a weapon. Usually one hit against these NPCs will kill them in the first round and your Bard really excels at killing the “easy” stuff while also defending the rest of the group from the heavy hitters (Orc Warriors, Trolls, etc). I also hear the Bard is really good at drinking but that’s a whole other guide altogether…

Good luck and don’t sing any karaoke songs that you will soon regret!!!